Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Bizzare bear story

Of all of the bizarre stories I have read about bears, this one may top the list.

Ashley Swendsen, a 26-year-old, pregnant Colorado native was out for a walk along a creek when she was followed by a cinnamon-phase black bear. As she retreated to a nearby road she was struck by a car.

Swendsen, was not injured but was taken to a nearby hospital as a precaution, where she was treated and released.

The bear was later captured and euthanized by Colorado Department of Wildlife.


Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Easy to fool bass? It could be inerhited.

Why are some bass easier to catch than others? That question could have been answered by a University of Illinois study and the answer may surprise you. Genetics!

A 20 year experiment supports the idea that some largemouth may be easier to catch than others and that trait may be inherited. Here is a copy of the entire press release:

Largemouth bass vulnerability to being caught by anglers a heritable trait

URBANA - In an experiment spanning over 20 years, researchers at the University of Illinois have found that vulnerability to being caught by anglers is a heritable trait in largemouth bass.
The study began in 1975 with the resident population of bass in Ridge Lake, an experimental study lake in Fox Ridge State Park in Charleston. The fishing was controlled. For example, anglers had to reserve times, and every fish that was caught was put into a live well on the boat. The fish were measured and tagged to keep track of how many times each fish had been caught. All fish were then released.

"We kept track over four years of all of the angling that went on, and we have a total record – there were thousands of captures," said David Philipp, ecology and conservation researcher at U of I. "Many fish were caught more than once. One fish was caught three times in the first two days, and another was caught 16 times in one year."

After four years, the pond was drained, and more than 1,700 fish were collected. "Interestingly, about 200 of those fish had never been caught, even though they had been in the lake the entire four years," Philipp said.

Males and females from the group that had never been caught were designated Low Vulnerability (LV) parents. To produce a line of LV offspring, these parents were allowed to spawn with each other in university research ponds. Similarly, males and females that had been caught four or more times in the study were designated High Vulnerability (HV) parents that were spawned in different ponds to produce a line of HV offspring. The two lines were then marked and raised in common ponds until they were big enough to be fished.

"Controlled fishing experiments clearly showed that the HV offspring were more vulnerable to angling than the LV offspring," said Philipp.

This selection process was repeated for several generations over the course of the 20 year experiment.

"As we had predicted, vulnerability was a heritable trait," he said. Philipp went on to explain that with each generation, the difference between lines in angling vulnerability grew even larger.
"Most of the selection is occurring on the LV fish – that is, for the most part, the process is making that line of fish less vulnerable to angling. We actually saw only a small increase in angling vulnerability in the HV line," Philipp said.

Male bass are the sole caregiver for the offspring. Females lay eggs and leave. The male guards the nest against brood predators for about three to four days before the eggs hatch and another eight to 10 days after they hatch, before they become free-swimming. Even after the baby bass start to swim, the dads stay with them for another three weeks while they feed and grow, protecting them from predators.

Philipp explained that the experiment sped up what's actually happening in nature. "In the wild, the more vulnerable fish are being preferentially harvested, and as a result the bass population is being directionally selected to become less vulnerable. We selected over three generations, but in the wild the selection is occurring in every generation.

"We've known for 50 years that commercial fishing exerts selection on wild populations," he said. "We take the biggest fish, and that has changed life histories and growth patterns in many populations of commercially harvested species. Because there is no commercial fishing for bass, we were assessing the evolutionary impacts of recreational fishing."

Philipp explained that the perception among anglers is that catch-and-release has no negative impact on the population. During the spawning season, however, if bass are angled and held off of their nests for more than a few minutes, when they are returned to the lake, it's too late; other fish have found the nest and are quickly eating the babies.

Philipp recommends that to preserve bass populations across North America, management agencies need to protect the nesting males during the spawning season. "There should be no harvesting bass during the reproductive period. That makes sense for all wildlife populations. You don't remove the adults during reproduction.

"One of the big issues for concern is the explosion of tournaments. Lots of bass tournaments are held during the springtime because there are lots of big fish available. In tournaments you put fish into live wells, and yes, they're released, but they could be held for up to 8 hours first. They're brought back to the dock, miles from their nest. So, basically, if a fish is caught in a tournament and brought into the boat and put into a live well, his nest is destroyed."

Philipp recommended that if fishing tournaments were held during the spawning season, then regulations should require that there be immediate catch-and-release, eliminating the use of tournament weigh-ins.

Philipp urges management agencies to go even further and suggests that a portion of each lake could be set aside as a bass spawning sanctuary, where all fishing would be prohibited until after bass reproduction is complete. In the rest of the lake, mandatory catch-and-release regulations could be put into place during that same reproductive period. In Illinois, the bass reproduction period is from about April 1 through June 15. Philipp said that in that way, anglers could help protect the long-term future of the resource without completely restricting fishing.

"The potential for angling to have long-term evolutionary impacts on bass populations is real. If we truly want to protect this valuable resource into the future, then we need to understand that and adjust our management strategies," Philipp said.

Others on the University of Illinois research team include Steven Cooke, Julie Claussen, Jeffrey Koppelman, Cory Suski, and Dale Burkett. Selection for Vulnerability to Angling in Largemouth Bass was published in Transactions of the American Fisheries Society 138:189-199, 2009.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Biffle take BASS Elite Series

Over the weekend I wrote about veteran tournament angler Guido Hibdon taking the title at the FLW Series event on Lake Eufaula.

Another cagey vet gave the youngsters a lesson at the Bassmaster Elite Series tournament on Alabama’s Wheeler Lake. Waggoner, Oklahoma’s Tommy Biffle, longtime professional angler, took home $100,000 after boating 50 pounds, 13 ounces in the weather shortened event.

Biffle found a secluded spot and the 51-year-old managed 14-13 on the final day to hold off Casey Ashley for the Evan Williams Bourbon Dixie Duel.


Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Angler, gator and law enforcement

A Jacksonville, North Carolina Marine recently had a fishing trip he is unlikely to forget.

Adam Robert Rush, 27, a Marine sergeant was bass fishing the Blue River in his 10-foot john boat when his trolling motor quit working. An alligator, estimated by Rush to be nine-feet long, made a bee line for the disabled watercraft.

“He had fish hanging off his boat, and I suspect that is what the alligator was after," said Sgt. C.F. Smith with N.C. Wildlife.

With the gator trying to get the stringer of bass, Rush pulled the fish on board, which prompted the reptile to follow them.

"He tried to get into the boat, so I hit him in the head with the oar," Rush said. But with the engine dead and the oar broken, Rush was stuck. Not only was he dead in the water, but he now had a hungry gator with a taste for fresh fish, circling his boat.

Rush was eventually towed to shore by a friend who was nearby and law enforcement officials arrived on the scene. The story didn’t get any better for the angler from there. He ended up being cited for having short fish and not having his boat registered.

You can read more at: http://www.enctoday.com/news/rush_63451_jdn__article.html/alligator_boat.html

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Legend picks up Tournament win

One of the unique things about the sport of bass fishing is that fish don’t care whether you are eight or 80. Nothing illustrates this any better than Guido Hibdon.

The bass angling legend from Sunrise Beach, Missouri racked up another professional win at Alabama’s Lake Eufala on Saturday. The 60+-year-old Hibdon (it is tough to find his exact age) sacked a four day total weighing 83-9 to capture the Walmart FLW Series event. Hibdon earned $125,000 and outdistanced Tom Mann Jr. by a 5-pound, 1-ounce margin.

Hibdon said he fished the entire tournament near the dam south of Eufaula and managed to land about 10 keepers on the last day of competition. Hibdon said every one of the fish he caught Saturday came on a Copper Perch-colored Lucky Craft RC 2.5 square-billed crankbait. Hibdon said he controlled the depth of the crankbait by varying the size of line he paired it with.
To read the entire story on Hibdon’s win visit:


Friday, April 3, 2009

News and notes from the outdoors

Many outdoorsmen and women are technology freaks and it is nice to have some of the finest gadgets that help us do things a bit easier. In all of technology available to the outdoors community, nothing has made life easier than GPS. If you are going to rely on GPS, it might be a good idea to remember that these units are only a tool and not infallible.

Take the case of Wisconsin women how followed the advice of her in-car GPS unit, only to be stranded for eight hours on a snowmobile trail.

You can read the story here:


The Bassmaster Elite Series day two at Wheeler Lake in Alabama was cancelled this morning due to unsafe weather conditions. 2008 Classic champion Alton Jones will lead the pack into day three tomorrow. Last week’s winner, Kentuckian Mark Menendez currently sits in seventh place.


If you are a live bait fisherman, please respect your bait. A Huntington Beach, California man didn’t heed this advice and died.

Jeff Twaddle, 54, a deckhand on the charter boat Gale Force was clowning around for about 20 school kids when he placed a bait fish in his mouth. The bait became lodged, Twaddle lost consciousness and choked to death. The Coroner's Office deemed his death an accident, attributing it to “aspiration of fish.”